Monday, February 4, 2008

Not an evangelical internationalist

After years of talking about “conservative evangelical Christians” and Bush’s “evangelical base” as if evangelical Christians were a monolithic bloc of far right-wing conservatives, in the last couple of years, journalists have begun reporting on the more socially progressive wing of the movement, like “emerging churches” and mega-church leader Rick Warren’s global anti-poverty initiatives. In this vein, Nicholas Kristoff’s column yesterday argued that Mike Huckabee should not be “derided for his faith” because many evangelicals are “powerful internationalists and humanitarians.” True enough (on both counts), but is Huckabee one of these foreign policy “bleeding-heart conservatives,” as Kristoff calls them?
Huckabee’s essay in Foreign Affairs this month does distance his philosophy from the Bush administration’s “arrogant bunker mentality,” but his purportedly more multilateral approach similarly demands that other nations get on board our train. For example, China, Russia, and others must “put more economic pressure on Iran”; otherwise, “if the United States does end up taking military action, they will bear some responsibility for having failed to maximize peaceful options.” Huckabee writes almost exclusively about Islam, terrorism, and the Middle East, promoting an aggressive combination of sanctions, diplomacy, and military action in the region. Other nations and regions seem to exist only as supporters of or obstacles to a reinvigorated war on terror centered on Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan. Huckabee nods to “the underlying conditions that breed [terrorists]: the lack of basic sanitation, health care, education, a free press, fair courts” and indicates that the U.S. should take steps to address those conditions – just as soon as it “first destroy[s] existing terrorist groups.” Trade, treaties, environmental concerns, even basic relations with the rest of the world not only aren't on top of Huckabee’s agenda, they don’t make his agenda at all. Certainly, there are evangelical internationalists and humanitarians out there, but Huckabee does not seem to be one of them.

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